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Best Buy Forms Unit For Online Photo Processing

Vancouver, British Columbia — Best Buy jumped into the photo-processing market last month with a little help from its friends to the north.

The retailer tapped Siberra Corp., based here, to provide it with an online digital photography solution and desktop software, which it distributes for free in the seven markets — Phoenix, Minnesota, Dallas, Boston, Washington, D.C, San Francisco and Denver — where Best Buy started offering photo finishing last month.
Siberra is a subsidiary of Best Buy Canada, itself a subsidiary of Best Buy.

The close relationship might have sealed the deal, but according to Heather MacKenzie, VP, marketing and business development, Siberra, the subsidiary is free to court other CE retailers, including Best Buy rival Circuit City.

“About the only retailer we cannot do business with is Dell,” MacKenzie said.

Siberra was officially formed in November 2003 when Best Buy Canada purchased the software development company OpenGraphics Corp. and combined management and expertise from both companies to form Siberra.

The company provides retailers with online digital imaging fulfillment services that, among other things, lets consumers send their digital images from their desktops to the store’s minilab for developing. The print orders can be sent from within customized desktop software, a solution which Best Buy is using under the Imagelab Home brand in the aforementioned markets, or through an Internet browser and store Web site.

Once sent, the images can then be picked up in-store or mailed directly to customers’ homes. If the retailer does not have onsite processing, Siberra can provide photo printing through a partnership with New York-based wholesale photofinisher Adorama.

Siberra is targeting three main retail types as potential prospects, MacKenzie said: stores with a substantial photofinishing business that have not made the move to digital processing; stores, like Best Buy, that are relatively new to photofinishing; and wireless retailers/carriers looking for a means to profit on the proliferating camera phones.

Siberra has a deal with Canadian-based Bell Mobility that allows Mobility customers to transfer images from  a  Web site to a cell phone or vice versa.

The company’s fee structure is negotiable, MacKenzie said. Siberra will either draw a percentage of the revenue earned on photo processing or collect a software licensing fee from its clients. o